2 year old not talking in sentences? Expressive Language in Toddlers

2 year old not talking in sentences
2 year old not talking in sentences

A 2 year old not talking in sentences is typically considered a red flag for expressive language delay. Definitely by 2 and half years we would be expecting children to be putting words together to make little phrases and sentences. The role of the speech pathologist is to tease out if there are any underlying concerns resulting in putting the child at risk of delayed expressive language skills in the toddler age range.

What kind of sentences would be expected from 2 years of age?  How long should the sentences be?

We are not expecting full grammatical sentences from toddlers. They are often just putting words together like small phrases rather than formal sentences. From 2 years old, we are expecting an “average” of 2-words in a sentence.

​Some sentences might still be single words (e.g., go!), some might my 2-words (e.g., “go car”) and other sentences might have 3 or 4 words (e.g., mummy more bikky, me want it). However, if we average all the words out in the emerging sentences it would be about 2 words.

2 year old not talking in sentences

​What kinds of sentences should toddlers use?

Sentences begin to be used for a range of reasons from 2 years of age. The use of pronouns like “I” and “it” can emerge anywhere from 12 months of age to 26 months. Between 17 and 30 months pronouns like (me, my, mine, you) emerge. The use of pronouns assists the child to express sentences to tell us their needs and wants more (My turn, give it to me, I want it).

​Toddlers often can name lots of things! Now they can ask or comment on these things by putting another word with the “thing word” (e.g., Where ball? big ball, my ball, go up ball, give ball).

​Why might a Toddler be slow to put words into sentences.

​A toddler can be slow to be talking in sentences for many reasons. It is of course always important to get their hearing checked if there is any question of ear infections or lack of listening.

​Reduced expressive language skills in a 2 year old or toddler can stem from them being a late talker, presenting with early signs of speech difficulties, possible understanding concerns or a lack of communication intent. This lack of social use of expressive language can present in difficulties such as autism.

2 year old not talking in sentences

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